Leadership Lessons from Tim Tebow

The best QuickBase solutions almost always spring from outstanding teams, so we’re big fans of studying team dynamics. We build solutions for customers using QuickBase because we understand its power to make profound, positive and lasting change. But that kind of success is also tied to a cohesive, collaborative team.

So, how would one create such a team? It’s almost always when people feel heard, valued and respected that they truly come together to solve problems, innovate and reach for seemingly impossible goals. They tend to see themselves – specifically, their talents, skills and expertise – more clearly within the context of larger groups and systems.

Common sense, right? Yet this foundation for success is tough to build. To put it in place, you need the right leadership – so it helps to understand the traits that make someone succeed in that job. We’ve identified three things these kinds of leaders have in common when it comes be being part of a team:

1. They see themselves as a team member – not as the person in charge.

2. They tend to understate how their contributions helped their team win.

3. They tend to overstate their contribution to a team loss.

Want a couple of examples? The 2011-12 NFL season was packed with them, but two players really stood out: former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow and New England Patriots receiver Wes Welker.

Let’s tackle Welker first. When he missed a pass toward the end of Super Bowl XLVI, he obviously felt bad. Make that really bad.

“It comes to the biggest moment of my life, and I don’t come up with it,” Welker reportedly said after his team’s 21-17 loss to the New York Giants. “It hit me right in the hands. I mean, it’s a play I never drop, I always make it. It was the most critical situation and I let the team down.”

While some of Welker’s teammates – and at least one of their wives – might be content to blame the Patriots’ loss on that one play, that wasn’t the Patriots’ only missed opportunity during the Super Bowl. There were missed tackles, poor plays, bad calls, penalties, loss of focus – and even questionable passes thrown by his pro bowl quarterback. When Welker expressed remorse, he didn’t just demonstrate a strong sense of personal responsibility; he showed the humility that is one of the hallmarks of a great leader.

And then there’s Tebow, who, whether you like him or not, demonstrated some wisdom in leadership communication beyond his years. He made mistakes and missed opportunities – and then exalted his teammates for mitigating those weaknesses with strong plays of their own. His recognition and support inspired the people around him to work harder. Even when he executed with excellence, Tebow consistently spoke in terms of “we,” not “I.” By so many accounts, he conveyed a special understanding that the team’s success would be a confluence, not the direct result of one player – especially not him, the team’s quarterback.

Dropped balls can launch finger pointing and blame, or they can be the trials from which we learn, make improvements, and come together as a team. At TwinSuns, we try and help professionals prepare for the days when balls will be dropped - because they will be dropped. We help our clients use what they’ve learned from those experiences to plan for the future and to be proactive rather than reactive. We strive to help key stakeholders understand that how they react to adversity or success can either make their teams stronger – or divide them.

Richard Crum

Rich Crum is the co-founder of VeilSun inc., a full-service QuickBase and Cloud services integrator. An expert in software system delivery, Rich is now directing his technical and business skills to optimizing clients' business flows and processes with VeilSun. Rich lives in Denver where is earned his MS in Telecommunications Management at the University of Denver.

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